Sunday, December 28, 2008

Oh SO- O - O - delicious Pepper Jelly

As the holidays continue through the New Year, I am facing a week of more get together parties. I have put my baking supplies away for a little while. Yeah, yeah, I could go out and buy a bottle of wine for the party host, or I could present them with a oh so - o - o - delicious jar of homemade pepper jelly.

This jelly is absolutely delicious poured over a block of cream cheese, or even more, melt in your mouth better, a log of your favorite goat cheese. You can serve it with crackers, toasted bread, pita pieces or anything else you can come up with.

Gin's Pepper Jelly

1 cup apple jelly
1 cup orange marmalade
1 bunch green onions
2 jalapeno pepper
2 tablespoons Pomegranate Red Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Finely chop the jalapeno peppers and the green onions. Put all ingredients in a heavy duty sauce pan and simmer for 45 minutes while stirring occasionally. Let cool and put in decorative jars for your gift giving pleasure.

I guarantee your party host will love this gift. You can put it in a basket along with a block of goat cheese and a box of crackers. You will be loved forever and I guarantee people will ask you to bring it again. In my case, an acquaintance asked me to can several jars and she purchased them from me for her holiday gift giving. It is a start, ever so small, to owning my own catering business!!!!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wrapping Up Christmas Day One Peppermint at a Time

I am always happy on Christmas night when everybody is happy with gifts and a full belly. I am tired because I spent the entire day in the kitchen, but it is a happy tired. I have already promised myself to come up with a menu next Christmas that I can prepare and freeze! I am already looking forward to the New Year and the possibilities that it could bring me.

Our Christmas is different now because I have sixteen and twenty year old sons. So you see, there are no early morning runs to check under the tree. Everybody sleeps in. My husband and two sons started the day at 11:00 am with a brunch of Swedish pancakes, a scrumptious plate of sausage and bacon, fresh squeezed orange juice and fresh cut fruit. We made our way to leisurely open presents by a roaring fire. What fun! There were snacks all day followed by a hearty helping of fish and steak tacos (probably not your usual Christmas fare, but it was a request of my two sons.)

To say that I am cookied-out would be an immense understatement. I am not a big cookie gal, but have eaten my fair share this holiday season. I actually don’t think I can eat another cookie for quite some time. I have not had much peppermint this holiday season and I didn’t want it to end without at least savoring a peppermint dish of some sort. Out came my ice cream maker.

This recipe is quite tasty and imparts a nice creamy minty flavor. Topped with homemade chocolate sauce, it is a perfect way to say goodbye to Christmas 2008.

Peppermint Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cup 2% milk
8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/2 cup (or more) crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candy

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-10 minutes. Add peppermint extract. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. Once ice cream mixture is chilled; freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once the ice cream begins to harden add in the crushed peppermint candy. Put in an airtight plastic container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. Serve with homemade chocolate sauce and additional crushed peppermint.
Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Homemade Decadent Chocolate Sauce

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips
3 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon coffee extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon vanilla

Add to sauce pan and melt over low heat until well blended. Store in fridge.

I hope that your holidays were blessed with family, friends, happiness and tons of fun!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fantastically Fresh Made Mini Muffins

Twas the night before the launch of my very first food blog, when all through the house not an oven was baking or a mixer was a shaking. The recipes were prepared with pride and care in hopes that followers would soon be there. While visions of banana bread danced in my head? WHAT, BANANA BREAD? I can’t do any better than boring bland banana bread? Well, actually I can. I present to you Belle of the Ball Banana Crunch Munch Mini Muffins. It is a mouth full, I know, and that is exactly what you are going to get. You will savor a mouth full of tender and moist muffin, with a crunchy richness that can be relished morning till night. In honor of my very first blog post there is a BIG GIVEAWAY!! Well, it is not so big but it is still fun to receive something free in the mail. The first person to leave a comment will be the proud winner of their very own bottles of Banana Extract and Coffee Extract!!

Belle of the Ball Banana Crunch Munch Mini Muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon banana extract
½ teaspoon coffee extract (*see note below)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 cup granola (**see note below)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Chopped dried banana chips, dried fruits (of your choice,) additional granola and coconut for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
· Coffee extract will not make your muffins taste like coffee, but will impart a robust and dense flavor to these mini morsels.
· I use basic honey and oat granola bars and pound them with my meat mallet.

Line 100 mini muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, banana extract, coffee extract and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour and butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. It is very important not to over mix.

Fold the diced bananas, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each almost to the top. Top each muffin with dried banana chips, granola, dried fruit and coconut. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the tops are lightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.
Most likely you will have extra topping that can be used in yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream .